Archives for posts with tag: Romance

Grade B

The ups and downs and craziness of love and loss are explored in “Love Actually.”  The highly talented cast and multiple, intertwining storylines elevates this Rom-Com above its peers.   Yes, most of the storylines are predictable; but a few are surprising in how they turn out.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Love Actually” is the scene when a woman realizes that her husband is cheating on her.  Tears flow from her eyes, then she slowly composes herself, puts on a happy face, goes into the living room and joyfully tells her children and her cheating husband that its time for them to all go out for their fun, family, Christmas outing.

Be warned: this movie is full of cliches and corniness; but it’s also romantic, funny, tragic, hopeful and surprising.   A bit like life.

— M


Grade B+


Manny’s Movie Musings: Will Smith plays the title role in “Hitch,” a debonair, love guru in Manhattan who helps out men completely lost on how to approach the women of their dreams.  As Smith coaches a lovable klutz (played by Kevin James) into getting his dream girl to take interest in him, Smith meets and becomes very interested in a woman (Evan Mendes) who believes all men are dogs and true love is just a fantasy story.  Although Smith’s experience gives him an edge into breaking Mendes’ mental wall, he will soon discover that the rules he created for himself and his students don’t always apply.  “Hitch” has all the elements of a good romantic-comedy movie: the main characters are likeable and they “meet cute”; things go well until a huge misunderstanding ruins everything; the problems are resolved in a funny and satisfying way by the end of the third act; the secondary characters are adorable and funny to watch; and the main players have great chemistry with each other.  My most memorable, movie moment of “Hitch” is the scene when Smith has an allergic reaction to seafood and his face blows up as if he was stung by a thousand bees!

— M

Grade B+

This adaptation of the Jane Austen novel of the same title stars Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet as two sisters with different personalities who do their best to manage suitors and a much downgraded lifestyle than they were accustomed to.  Thompson is the eldest sister, reserved and growing an attachment to a man who cannot seem to express his intent toward her; and Winslet is the headstrong, passionate sister who rushes into a romantic relationship with a man who is as passionate and lively as she, but spurns the affections of an older, emotionally reserved man.  The secrets of the suitors will eventually be brought to light, and how the sisters handle these secrets will either destroy or uplift them.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Sense And Sensibility” is the scene when Thomson’s love interest tells her the full story of why he did the things he did, and how he wants to proceed in the immediate future.  I realize it’s a bland recounting, but it was done to not spoil what I consider the most dramatic part of the movie.

Everything about this movie is superb…except the running time.  At 136 minutes, parts of Austen’s novel had to be cut and/or trimmed down; and when you do that, it obviously damages the story.  For those who think this adaptation is amazing as it stands, I suggest you watch the near 3 hour BBC version which deserves an A+ rating.

— M

Grade C –

Another offering by Nicholas Sparks, “The Last Song” stars Miley Cyrus as a teen girl who, along with her younger brother, is sent to live with her estranged father (played by Greg Kinnear) for the summer.  And now, for the cliches: Cyrus has a huge attitude because she hates her father for divorcing her mom; Kinnear is the nice, protective father who is desperate to reconnect with his daughter…and he has a secret that will alter the lives of his children forever; the son is a smart-ass who is insightful for his age; Cyrus, despite her anger issues and raggedy looks, will attract the local, young stud (played by Liam Hemsworth); Hemsworth turns out to be more than a pretty face — he is a guy with a heart of gold, and he is looking for “the one”; Cyrus can’t stand Hemsworth — or so she pretends — then starts to like him…then hates him again for withholding a secret from her that affects her father (who she used to hate but now kind of likes)…then likes Hemsworth again because she forgives him and she really really likes him and…well, you get the idea.

The worst things about “The Last Song” are the numerous cliches mentioned above, Cyrus’ lack of serious acting skills, the lack of onscreen chemistry between Cyrus/Hemsworth, and the forced, goofball scenes that are supposed to make the audience go ga-ga for these two young lovers.  The “meet cute” part isn’t cute at all, it is corny as hell and made me cringe that someone could write something so bad for a Hollywood movie.  Then there is the actor who plays the young son: his constant, constipation face is both funny and annoying.  Add the tears and the snot during the dramatic moments and it’s just all too much.

Saving this movie from a much lower grade is Kinnear’s very good acting.  It’s natural, subtle in most cases, and very believable.  Hell, he was my favorite character.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Last Song” is when Kinnear’s secret is revealed.  Sparks fans won’t be shocked as they know how this writer operates.

So…do I recommend this movie to Sparks fans?  Yes, because I know that fans of Nicholas Sparks will want to gobble up anything he writes, even if many say it is a substandard piece of work.  Fans will always need to watch for themselves.  So, watch “The Last Song,” and see for yourself.  Everybody else, there are much better rom-com/dramas out there.

— M


Grade C +

The latest movie adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, “The Choice” is about two people (played by Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer) who seem to be of differing personalities who meet cute, start a romance, and one is going to make a choice that will affect their lives forever.

So let me do a quick break down of this movie.  Despite some heavy drama thrown around during the second and third acts, “The Choice” is basically a romantic comedy.  As such, the couple “meet cute,” meaning they meet in a cute, funny, and interesting way.  This important element is catastrophically bad in “The Choice.”  I almost cringed at the horrible dialogue when Walker and Palmer first met.  Fortunately the dialogue improved somewhat in their subsequent meetings, although still at the level below what is expected of a good screenwriter.

Now to the second act, where things really start to get interesting.  The romance and drama get amped up, and most of the corny dialogue is replaced with slightly more serious and believable fare.  But all this time, I keep thinking of the lack of chemistry between the two leads — a crucial part of any movie, especially that of a rom-com — and how Walker was miscast as the male lead.  Another big strike against this movie; but as the movie goes on I started focusing more on the characters instead of how the actors looked together.  Saved by the bell here.

Then there’s the third act, which is mostly about the choice one of the leads has to make.  In order to not spoil the movie, I won’t mention anything more other than it is a Nicholas Sparks story, so prepare to have your emotions played with.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Choice” is the scene when Walker professes his love for Palmer, telling her in his own way that he wants to be with her forever.  This is the most dramatic and authentic part of the movie, filled with raw emotion without artificial sweeteners or cornball dialogue.

Sparks fans will most likely have a kinder attitude to “The Choice.”  But fans of great rom-coms will be disappointed, but still mildly entertained.

— M

Tom Hardy and Chris Pine play best friends who happen to be spies who have no relationship entanglements.  Reese Witherspoon is the woman who accidentally comes between them.  The ground rules the spies set for themselves before they vie for the same chick gets tossed out the window as both men start to fall for Witherspoon and each one wants their Reese’s pieces.   Welcome to “This Means War.”

In this corner we have Pine, a super bachelor with a kick ass bachelor’s pad (that I wish I have)!  He’s slick, so slick some women may consider him slimy.  He’s an overgrown kid who just wants to have commitment-less fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

In that corner we have Hardy!   British: used in this movie as a four letter word and is not fully explained, which makes it more funny.  He’s a romantic, looking for “the one.”  But he’s got this weird thing going on with some of his front teeth, like a few are bigger than the others.

In the middle of the ring we have Witherspoon: single, beautiful, a big heart, a romantic, and also looking for her true love.

Who gets who?  I won’t tell, so just watch the movie!  It’s fun, lighthearted fare.   It’s a mish mosh of romance, action and comedy.   At about 97 minutes long, the movie moves fast; but slows down just enough to develop the characters to make it all work.   I was surprised at the short, action sequence at the end.   I guess I’m used to overlong, overblown endings of action flicks.  Damn, you, Michael Bay, for getting me hooked on 45 minute, non-stop action finales!

So what’s my first runner up for the most memorable movie moment in “This Means War?”  The scene where Witherspoon is in her kitchen singing along to “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan.  She is so cute dancing around her place shaking her cute, little butt to the music as Pine and Hardy infiltrate her home to plant surveillance equipment to give each one a leg up on how to win her heart.

And for the most memorable movie moment:  when Hardy teaches a bullying father a lesson in humility.  Okay, we have to go back to a scene where Hardy’s son (from a previous marriage) is fighting the son of a bullying father in a martial arts class.  Hardy’s son gets beaten like a black driver gets beaten by the NYPD.  The bullying father yells and screams his adulation at his son while Hardy is trying to make his own son feel better about the match.   Hardy, bent over so he can talk closely with his son, suddenly gets a hard slap from the bullying father.   The face Hardy makes at the bullying father is similar to the one I make when I gas up my car and see that the prices went up again.  Bullying father scolds Hardy and tells him “pain is weakness leaving the body!”  Hardy’s son walks away and Hardy decides to take the high road and go after his son instead of making the bullying father answer for being an idiot.  Oh, it was painful to watch, because you knew Hardy could have destroyed the bullying father.

Well, later on there is a rematch of the sons in the dojo, and Hardy’s son — obviously taught some moves by his father — beats the son of the bullying father.   And when no one is looking, Hardy gives extremely fast, “Fist of The North Star” punches to the bullying father within a fraction of a second, stunning him and giving him so much pain he can barely breathe.  Revenge!   Hardy, being the gentleman, helps the bullying father to sit down, and tells him that “pain is just weakness leaving the body.”   Hell, yeah, I like this guy!  Despite his two Chiclet-sized front teeth.

Revenge is a dish best served anytime you can get away with it.


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